As a writer, you’re probably seeking ways to get more exposure for your work.
What if I told you there was a website where you could publish your writing and tap into a potential audience of 30,000 people per month?
And you can even make some impressive money at the same time?
Medium is a blogging and publishing platform developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. It’s a fantastic place to share new articles or republish old blog posts and reach more readers.
Since I first began publishing there three years ago, Medium has helped me grow my email list by thousands of subscribers. One post I published brought in 500 new subscribers in a single month.
Additionally, Medium has helped me attract new clients for my writing and web design services, including one for a $2,240 project. But you can also make money through the platform without having to sell your own products or services.
In 2018, Medium rolled out the partner program. It allows you to make money based on how much engagement your Medium posts receive.
Yes, you read that right.
You can make money just by publishing your posts on Medium. And they don’t only have to be non-fiction articles! You can publish poetry and fiction too.
In April, I republished ten of my old blog posts and made $843.73 through Medium’s partner program.
55% of writers who wrote at least one story for members earned money in April. And some of those writers are making a full-time income through the platform.
If your posts are languishing unread on your blog and you’re struggling to grow an audience…
Or if you’re marketing your work like crazy but your email list is growing at a snail’s pace…
Or if you would love to start a side hustle with your writing but don’t know how to get started…
Then Medium is the perfect platform for you.
Today, I’m going to share with you how to set up an account and all of the strategies I’ve used to turn Medium readers into subscribers and build my audience while also making money on the platform.
Note: This is an in-depth step-by-step guide at over 3,400 words. If you’d like to save it to read later, you can get the PDF version by entering your email in the form below.
How to Get Started on Medium
Step 1 – Set up a Medium Account
To get started on Medium, you’ll first need to create an account.
You can sign up with either a Google or Facebook account.
Once you sign up, Medium will also ask you to select your interests and will suggest writers for you to follow.
Make sure to pick the topics that you will be writing about. Medium will display articles related to those topics in your homepage feed, and you’ll be able to see the types of articles that are performing well.
Step 2 – Edit Your Profile
Now it’s time to edit your profile. (Click on the avatar at the top right-hand corner of the page to find your profile. Choose “profile” from the drop-down menu.)
Here’s a screenshot of my current profile:
Use a photo of yourself for the profile picture. This will give your account more authority and establish trust with your readers.
I recommend uploading the same photo that you use on your other social media accounts so your followers will immediately recognize you if they follow you elsewhere on the web.
Finally, make sure to include a prominent link to your website or to your email list sign-up form.
Step 3 – Write Your First Story
To start writing your first post, click on your avatar in the menu bar and choose “New Story” from the drop-down menu.
If you’re republishing a post from your blog, just copy and paste it and make the necessary formatting edits. (Here’s a post I recently published to give you an idea of how you can format your posts on Medium.)
Alternatively, you have the option to import a post directly from your blog. However, I’ve had problems in the past where a post I imported displayed the date I first published it on the blog and not on Medium.
This meant that it did not show up as a new story in readers’ feeds. I recommend just creating a new story and copying and pasting your blog post into the Medium editor.
The title, subtitle, and lead picture are extremely important for getting people to click on your article.
Click on the circle with the cross in the center (as seen in the picture above) to add a photo to your post. You’ll see a row of options like this:
Click on the camera to upload a photo directly from your computer. Click on the magnifying glass to search for free stock photos from Unsplash to add to your post. I recommend using a horizontal photo for your lead picture.
You can highlight your text for more formatting options.
A constant stream of articles floods readers’ homepage feeds. The only way yours will stand out is if the headline and picture catch readers’ eyes.
For example, here’s how one of my posts will appear on a reader’s homepage:
The picture makes the story stand out, the headline is intriguing, and the subtitle further explains what the story is about without giving too much away.
I’ve tried not including subtitles on posts, but I’ve found that the articles usually do not perform as well.
Read my post here for tips on how to write compelling headlines and more suggestions on how to format the body of your Medium post.
Step 4 – Link Back to Articles on Your Website
Within the body of your post, I recommend including one to two links to related posts on your blog. This is an effective way to drive traffic back to your website. (If you don’t have a website, you could use these links to drive traffic to your other Medium posts.)
Write out the full URL of the link on a separate line, and it will appear as an embedded preview. Here’s an example from one of my posts:
When readers click the link and land on your website, you want to make sure you have prominent email opt-in forms where they can subscribe to your email list. Since many Medium readers use their phones to access the Medium app, your website should also be mobile friendly.
Step 5 – Ask Readers to Subscribe to Your Email List
At the end of each of my Medium posts, I invite readers to subscribe to my email list. I usually link to this landing page (I’ve designed the landing page to display nicely on a mobile phone) and tell them they will get several free writing guides when they subscribe.
Readers are more likely to sign-up to your email list if you offer them some kind of free resource in return.
Finally, I embed an email subscription form in my Medium post that they can use if they want to sign-up for the email list without leaving Medium. See below:
The email subscription form is a free form available from Upscribe. This is a great way to start building your email list even before you have a website.
However, Upscribe only collects email addresses. You will not be able to use it to send subscribers email newsletters.
You will need a service like MailerLite in order to do that. That’s my affiliate link, but MailerLite is free up to 1,000 subscribers.
I manually copy the subscribers’ emails into my MailerLite account in order to send them my email newsletter.
Step 6 – Add Tags and Publish Your Post
Now you’re almost ready to publish your post. When you click on “ready to publish?”, you’ll have an option to add tags to your post. You’ll see a screen like this:
Tags help Medium categorize your post and show it to the relevant audience. And if you want to monetize your post, tags are important for getting your post submitted for promotion across Medium.
We’ll dive more into that in Step 8.
Medium also has a feature called “top writers”. For certain tags, they select fifty of the most popular writers and award those writers with a “top writer” distinction in their profile.
For example, if you look at my profile, you’ll see that I’m a top writer in writing, creativity, productivity, and self-improvement. Medium recommends my account when people search for articles under those tags.
Look for popular posts under the topics you want to write about and see which tags the author has chosen.
Step 7 – Submit Your Story to a Publication
Once you publish a story on your profile, you might get a handful of reads. But if you’re just starting out and have a small following, your posts will probably not perform very well.
Don’t get discouraged. Instead, try submitting your articles to Medium publications. These are magazines that exist within the Medium platform and curate articles around specific topics. They’re an excellent way to gain more exposure and build your audience.
When a Medium publication publishes your post, it will be sent out to that publication’s following. Often, publications have their own email newsletter too.
Many publications allow you to submit content you’ve already published on your blog. Once again, this is an excellent way to repurpose your old blog posts.
Here is a list of the top publications on Medium. Note that this list only takes into consideration the number of people following the publication. You will have to check that the publication is still active.
If the huge list of publications seems overwhelming, you can also search through the stories featured in Medium’s different topics (go here and click on a topic), try to find articles similar to the ones you are writing, and see which publications they have been published in.
Once you find a publication you want to submit to, just look up their submission guidelines (not all publications accept submissions).
Most publications only accept drafts. If you plan to submit your post to a publication, don’t hit publish.
Follow the publication’s submission guidelines and once they add you as a writer, go back into your draft. Click on the three dots on the menu and choose “Add to publication” from the drop-down menu.
This will display the publications that have accepted you as a contributor, and you will be able to submit your story to them as a draft that they can review.
When your post goes live in a publication, you should still share it across your social media accounts and with your email list. Ask people to read and clap for your article (if they have an account on Medium).
The more claps a post receives within the first few hours of publication, the higher chance it has of becoming a trending article and being seen by more people.
Step 8 – Join the Medium Partner Program to Earn Money From Your Writing
Okay, now we’re ready to monetize your posts.
You’ll see in step six that when you hit “ready to publish?” there was an option to make your story eligible to earn money and allow curators to recommend your story to interested readers. If you haven’t signed up for the partner program yet, it might just ask you if you want to allow curators to recommend your story.
To sign up for the partner program, click on “join the partner program” on this page. You’ll be prompted to agree to Medium’s terms of service and set up payments.
Payments are made via Stripe so the partner program is currently only open to writers in countries where Stripe is supported.
To make your story eligible for monetization, click “ready to publish?” and then make sure the box is checked next to “make my story eligible to earn money”. Monetized posts will display an asterisk next to the read time and the date of publication.
At the end of every calendar month, Medium deposits what you’ve earned into your bank account or debit card.
So, how exactly do you make money?
Well, Medium is ad-free, and it’s also free to set up an account and join the partner program. But they also have an option to upgrade your account for $5 a month or $50 a year. They call this a “membership”. Medium members have a green circle around their profile picture.
When you monetize your posts, they become members-only. (People who do not have an upgraded membership account can usually only read up to three members-only posts a month.)
When a person with an upgraded Medium membership account reads or claps for your post, you get a portion of their subscription fee. One person can clap up to fifty times for a story.
When you make your story eligible for monetization, it will be published on your profile and also submitted to Medium curators for review.
Curators review submitted stories to see if they follow these guidelines. You can include forms for a mailing list or a link to a mailing list in your members-only post, but you are not allowed to ask for claps or include ads for a product.
If the story is up to the standards of the curators, they’ll select if for distribution in one (or several) of Medium’s topics. List the topics in your tags that you’d like your story to be considered for distribution in.
Stories that are distributed across Medium are promoted on their homepage, on their app, in their Daily Digest email, and on their topic pages. That means Medium is actively marketing your stories!
Step 9 – Promote Your Posts
Even if Medium curators select your story for distribution, you should still promote your posts too. The more interaction your stories receive, the more people they will be shown to across Medium.
And here’s something cool.
Medium gives writers a “friend link” for their members-only posts. The friend link guarantees anyone free access to your story, even if they don’t have a membership and have read all of their complimentary stories for the month.
To get your post’s friend link, just go into your published members-only post and click the gear at the top of the page next to the bell and your profile pic.
By using the friend link, you can share your members-only story with your email list or social media followers even if they don’t have a Medium account or an upgraded Medium membership.
Here’s a good step-by-step process for promoting your Medium posts:
- Submit your unpublished post to a Medium publication
- Make sure when your post goes live that it’s a members-only story (most publications allow members-only posts — you still receive all of the money that your post makes)
- Share the “friend link” on social media
- Share the “friend link” with your email list (The organic reach on Medium is pretty bad. That means your Medium followers often don’t see your posts. And that’s why I recommend starting an email list so you can notify your Medium followers directly when you publish a new post.)
Step 10 – Keep an Eye on Your Stats
Medium has a helpful stats page that lets you track how your stories are performing. Here’s a peek at my stats from April to the beginning of May.
You can also see a breakdown of how many people viewed your post, read it all the way through, and left some applause. The “read ratio” is the difference between your reads and views. Click on “details” under your posts’ headline to get more in-depth stats about that specific post and see whether it was distributed by curators.
As you can see, one post performed much better than the other. Was it the topic? The headline? The time of day when the post went live?
I keep track of all of these things and keep experimenting with each post. In fact, I’ll often keep an eye on my stats in the first few hours when an article goes live.
If I notice that not many people are viewing the post or the post has a low read ratio, I might tweak the title or other elements of the piece.
The great thing about Medium is that you can keep editing your published stories. Publications will often allow you to continue making edits even once a story goes live.
The bottom line is not to give up if a post doesn’t do particularly well. Just keep experimenting and putting your articles out there.
Three Frequently Asked Questions About Medium
Before I wrap up this guide, I’d like to answer the three most common questions I get asked about Medium.
1. What kind of articles do well on Medium?
I have noticed that inspirational personal essays and self-improvement articles are the most popular posts on Medium, but there is still a wide variety of other posts on the platform too.
I’ve had success with publishing poetry and creative nonfiction. Here’s a creative nonfiction story I published that did well on the platform.
As a general rule, Medium readers tend to like well-written posts that are helpful, entertaining, or compelling. Read my guide here on how to write strong blog posts.
2. Is it okay to republish my blog posts to Medium?
Yes! This is one of the reasons why I love Medium. It’s a great way to repurpose old blog content. Many Medium publications will accept posts that you previously published on your blog.
Some people hesitate to republish their content on other websites thinking it might hurt the original post’s ranking in Google search. Google explains in this article,
If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is the most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you prefer. However, it is helpful that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article.
Ultimately, Google will not penalize your blog if you republish your content.
However, here are several steps you can take to protect your original post’s search ranking:
- Don’t republish an article as soon as it goes live on your blog. Wait several days for Google to index the link. You can search for the URL in Google to see if Google has indexed it yet or not.
- At the end of your Medium article, note that you originally published the post on your blog and link back to the original post.
- Give the Medium post a different headline and edit some of the content of your post to make it distinct from your original post.
You can also avoid republishing your most popular content that is already receiving steady search traffic.
Overall, however, I’m not too worried about republishing my work to Medium. Those Medium posts are driving more traffic back to my website and resulting in many more subscribers than when my posts were just waiting for someone to stumble across them in Google.
3. Is it okay to use my Medium profile as my author website?
No, I don’t recommend relying on Medium as your author website. Medium’s features are limited, and, as with any social medium platform, you don’t own your followers. If Medium ever goes out of business or if they suspend your account, you will lose that entire following.
While you can use Medium to start growing your email list and earning money, you should also have a separate author website. Check out my guide on how to set up a self-hosted WordPress website here.
If you’ve been struggling to get readers to your blog, I highly recommend trying out Medium. It’s a wonderful way to share your work, find your target audience, and start growing your email list while also getting paid for your writing.
Depending on the type of writing you want to publish, you might have to tweak the steps I’ve laid out above. However, I believe Medium is a powerful platform for sharing all different kinds of writing.
If you have any questions about anything in this article, let me know in the comments. I’ve also turned this blog post into a PDF guide that you can download and save to your computer. You can get it by entering your email in the form below.
Do you have a Medium account? Let me know in the comments and please share this post with a friend if you found it helpful.